In the world of online shopping and same-day delivery, companies are trying to tackle tough logistic questions. How do you get products from the warehouse to the customer’s door in the most efficient manner? One futuristic way to deliver packages is through the use of drones. We’ve already heard of tests by the likes of Amazon and even drone pizza delivery from Domino’s. But so far, nobody’s really nailed it.
While in the states, companies are wrestling with regulations from the Federal Aviation Administration and other obstacles, in Europe they’re trying to tackle the same problem. Last month, in a global first, online orders were delivered in the city of Zurich using drones sent out from vans. This sort of mobile drone delivery program was spearheaded by Matternet and siroop.ch in partnership with Mercedes-Benz.
Carried out over a period of three weeks, vans acted as mobile command centers for the drones. Packages were loaded onto the drones from the trucks, then the drones finished the last leg of the journey to the customer’s door. A total of around 100 flights were made without incident. Two drones were paired with two Mercedes-Benz Vito vans which were equipped with integrated landing platforms installed on the roofs of the vans.
The project was really a proof-of-concept to test the processes and procedures needed to run a system like this. The team set out to learn what some of the hiccups could be before deciding to scale the program larger.
Speaking on the pilot program Stefan Maurer, Head of Future Transportation and Mercedes-Benz Vans said, "We are extremely satisfied with the results of the pilot project in Switzerland. The aim was to test the technology and the concept in real-world conditions and find out where optimization was required. We also wanted to know how people would react to this new form of transportation."
Now imagine if the vans were fully autonomous. We’d have a robot army of vans sending out drones with packages. Let’s hope we don’t upset the drones and they start dropping rocks on our heads.